No band has had a more intense relationship with a city and an arena than the Stones have had with New York and the Garden.
When the Rolling Stones played Madison Square Garden for the very first time, during their now-legendary 1969 tour, it was the beginning of a relationship between "the greatest rock and roll band in the world" and "the world's most famous arena" that has endured across five decades. (Pictured: Mick Jagger, with Keith Richards and Bill Wyman in the background, at Madison Square Garden, November 28, 1969.)
David FentonWyman (who eventually left the band in 1993), Jagger, and Richards hold a press conference in New York before the Stones' first show at Madison Square Garden, November 1969. Much of the 1970 live album, "Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!'," was recorded during the three 1969 MSG shows.
Michael Ochs ArchivesFootage from the Stones' 1969 Garden shows also made its way into Albert and David Maysles' and Charlotte Zwerin's drug- and violence-infused 1970 documentary, "Gimme Shelter" — a movie often cited as the best chronicle of, literally and figuratively, "the end of the Sixties."Michael Ochs ArchivesMick Jagger chats backstage with his childhood hero, Chuck Berry, at Madison Square Garden, November, 1969.Robert R. McElroyThe Rolling Stones at Madison Square Garden during their 1972 American tour in support of the double-album masterpiece, "Exile on Main St." From left: Bill Wyman, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts, and Mick Taylor.
BettmannStevie Wonder, who opened for the Stones throughout the 1972 tour, joins the band onstage at Madison Square Garden on Jagger's birthday, July 26, 1972.Underwood ArchivesA Stones fan backstage at Madison Square Garden, July 24, 1972.New York Daily NewsJagger douses fans with water during a scorching night at MSG, July, 1972.
Ron Pownall PhotographyThe 1975 Stones tour of the U.S. and Canada was the first with new guitarist Ronnie Wood (center), after Mick Taylor left the band. (Pictured: Jagger, Wood, and Richards, Madison Square Garden, June 24, 1975.)Ron Pownall PhotographyRonnie Wood, keyboardist Billy Preston, Mick Jagger, and Keith Richards, Madison Square Garden, June 24, 1975.Richard E. AaronNot all the shows that members of the Stones played at MSG have been Rolling Stones concerts. Here, Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards tear it up with their short-lived band, The New Barbarians, at Madison Square Garden, May 7, 1979.
Richard E. AaronKeith Richards, rock god, Madison Square Garden, May 7, 1979.BettmannMick Jagger, Madison Square Garden, November 1981.BettmannA crowd of ticket holders file through police barricades for a Stones show at the Garden, November 1981.
Betty GalellaKeith Richards on his way to the Garden before a show, November 1981. "I've never had a problem with drugs," Keef once pointed out. "I've had problems with the police."New York Daily News ArchiveKeith Richards, Madison Square Garden, January 1998. "His urine is blue. / He smells like a campfire," his longtime friend Tom Waits wrote in a poem titled, "Keith Richards ..." Who doubts it?New York Daily News ArchiveRon Wood, Mick Jagger, and Keith Richards play the Garden, once again, in 2002, during the Licks Tour.
KMazur"I thought rock and roll was an unassailable outlet for some pure and natural expression of rebellion." — Keith Richards, pictured here at Madison Square Garden, September 2005.KMazurRon Wood, Mick Jagger, and Keith Richards at the Garden during the Bigger Bang Tour, September 2005. At the time, the tour was the highest grossing ever, with a box office of almost $560 million.KMazurThe Bigger Bang Tour, Round II: MSG, January 2006. For a couple of guys in their fifties, Mick and Keith look pretty damn good.
KMazurJagger poses as only Jagger can, Madison Square Garden, January 2006.Larry BusaccaThe Stones play the "12-12-12" benefit concert at Madison Square Garden, which raised money to help victims of Hurricane Sandy, December 12, 2012.Kevin MazurWith septuagenarian Charlie Watts (still) on drums, Jagger and Richards square off as they have countless times before. Madison Square Garden, December 12, 2012.
KMazurMick Jagger, Ron Wood, Keith Richards, and Charlie Watts soak in the cheers at the end of a show at Madison Square Garden, September 2005. Other acts have played more shows at MSG — but no band embodies the rowdy, fun-loving, soulful, and sometimes dangerous spirit of New York City and the Garden more completely than the Rolling Stones. We know, it's only rock and roll — but we like it.